Reading Group – March 2018 II

To what extent can we discuss Maggie Nelson’s work as ‘queer’? On 28 March 2018, the CPRG hosted a discussion, led by Dr Amy Rushton, on Maggie Nelson’s poetry alongside extracts from The Argonauts and The Red Parts: A Memoir (2007).

After a decade cultivating a dedicated following and championed by the likes of Eileen Myles for her poetry and critical prose, The Argonauts (2015) finally brought Maggie Nelson to international attention. Combining ‘her personal story of queer family-making with meditations on gender, art, and sexual politics memoir’ (the National Book Critics Circle), The Argonauts situated Nelson within a queer literary canon. At the end of 2017, Nelson was included in a new Penguin Modern Poets collection, alongside Claudia Rankine and Denise Riley, Penguin making much of these writers ‘bridging the divide between poetry, lyric prose, life-writing and theory’.

Amy asked us to think about some of these questions:

  • What can we make of her simultaneous dedication to poetry and confounding formal expectations?
  • Can her preoccupation with contesting narrative be read as a queering gesture?
  • Does Nelson’s work open possibilities for a distinctly queer critical poetics? Or are critical poetics inherently queer?

Dr Amy Rushton is a Lecturer in English at Nottingham Trent University. Her research interests include postcolonial theories, narrative form, and contemporary literature. Her recent publications include a politized reconceptualisation of Afropolitanism in recent diasporic fiction and she is revising her monograph on contemporary African fiction, tragedy and neo-colonialism for publication. (; @Dr_Aimz)